Focus: Maria Hickey Landscapes
One creative woman and her talented crew are transforming landscapes into dreamscapes.
There are times when the unexpected proves to be the better than expected. That must be the case for the many homeowners across the Cape who have partnered with Maria Hickey, principal of Falmouth’s Maria Hickey Landscapes. A woman at the helm, or in this case the excavator seat, is a rare scenario in the world of landscape design and installation. Many clients have benefitted from her background in horticulture, landscape design, and permitting difficult cases through the local conservation commissions. Civil engineering firms and land surveyors often urge homeowners to contact Maria for help making impossible projects possible.
Hickey who has been transforming exterior spaces for homeowners for over 20 years says her relationship with her clients is definitely an evolution. “So many times, I will meet a client and they know nothing about me, many times I am referred by a contractor or currrent client who knows I can design and install a landscape with a huge wow factor, bringing old world charm and ambience to each project,” Hickey shares. “I think sometimes they are surprised that a women is in charge of such a large and capable operation, but after I explain the possibilities and opportunities their landscape can realize, they are along for the ride with full confidence and shared enthusiasm.”
Hickey has years of successful history across southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island when it comes to presenting to the local conservation boards, permitting sensitive waterfront projects and obtaining approvals for property that involve re-planting and mitigating vulnerable sites. “So many times I will meet with a homeowner who has a preconceived apprehension and scepticism of what the local conservation commission will allow in terms of a view,” Hickey explains.
Most waterfront properties are overrun by non-native invasive vegetation that limits habitat and valuable views. Maria is a certified invasive plant manager with a successful history of permitting restoration projects.
The removal of non-native invasive species, and planting native shrubs and pollinating perrenials, provides a dramatically improved functioning wildlife habitat. In addition to attracting many forms of wildlife, it can also open up previously closed view fields and create a model for coastal habitat restoration.
Hickey is known not only for her expertise is transforming the ecological foundation of a landscape, but she is also a woman who loves flowers and loves color. Her signature black work trucks and heavy equipment with magenta pink company logos establish the importance of beauty in every design she creates. “It’s important that my clients get as much out of their landscape as possible,” she states. “They are amazed that our projects are designed for long succession of blooms, with thoughtfully placed plant material, that continues to evolve through the seasons.”
In addition to plant material, Hickey’s crew is accomplished in transforming their clients’ spaces with expansive hardscapes, structures like handmade arbors, fencing and even small vineyards, all utilizing limbs and trunks sourced during the clearing phase of the projects. Places to pause, shady spots to sit and take in a view, areas for games and functional gardens that are equally as decorative, these are all the elements Hickey incorporates into her clients landscapes.
“Now more than ever, people want to be outside and enjoy their exterior spaces,” she says. “If we are going to create a space where people can truly enjoy it, we have to consider everything: sun, wind, shade, slope, materials, plants, trees, shrubs, ornamental. It is all part of the vision, every last detail.”
Details are not something Hickey skimps on. A recent vegetable garden for a retired couple was enclosed with fencing fashioned from the trunks of the trees that previously occupied the space. The garden, in the shape of a Celtic cross, features two gates acknowledging both clients, one with a peace sign made of the tree branches, and one with the Star of David.
“Why wouldn’t you want your backyard, no matter how big or how small, to realize its full potential?” Hickey asks. “People should love their outdoor space, it should be everything it can possibly be, and that is my job to make the impossible possible.”